Letters and other papers related to Daniël van der Meulen 1584-1600

Edited by Gisela Jongbloet-van Houtte

Daniël van der Meulen (Antwerpen 1554-Leiden 1600) was an international merchant and diplomat. He owed his business career in part, though not entirely, to his marriage in 1584 to Hester della Faille, the daughter of an exceptionally wealthy merchant family from Antwerp. That same year, the States of Brabant sent Daniël as their representative to the States General in the rebellious North to safeguard their interests. The fall of Antwerp in 1585 prompted Van der Meulen and his partners to reorganise the mercantile company and relocate to Bremen in northern Germany. He lived there until 1591 before moving permanently to Leiden.

Van der Meulen’s company initially traded with Germany but expanded its trading activities after 1591 to encompass the area around the Mediterranean. In this region alone, 181 letters, most of which were addressed to Van der Meulen, and 96 other items are found. The latter group consists of bills, orders, and surveys as well as letters. Daniël van der Meulen’s company archive is housed at the Municipal Records Office in Leiden. It provides the basis for a series of documentary editions, of which only one has been published so far.

This edition not only offers us an insight into how a large merchant household operated during that period but also contains a wealth of information on the siege of Antwerp, and political developments and cultural life at the time. Most of the letters are in Dutch, although a couple are in French and Italian. The book contains a mixed index based on business matters, personal names, and place names.